The Sydney Convicts are claiming the title of the world’s greatest gay rugby team this week after a landmark victory in the Bingham Cup grand final in New York on Sunday.
The Convicts beat fierce rivals the San Francisco Fog, becoming the first team to defeat the US powerhouse in a Cup final since the international gay tournament began in 2002.
The Convicts’ 16-10 grand final win avenged their loss to the Fog in the 2004 Bingham Cup semi-final in London.
The Convicts added to their Cup win with victory in the Bingham Plate, a separate tournament division. The Convicts did not field a team in the Bingham Bowl division.
Sydney Convicts president Andrew Purchas, who played in the Cup final on Sunday, said the victories were a tribute to hard work and community support.
It was absolutely fantastic. The team’s reaction was absolute jubilation after probably two years of hard work, Purchas told Sydney Star Observer.
We had a lot of supporters. There was a bunch of people from the Australian consulate. There were a whole lot of Australians who are living in New York who were out there supporting us.
We’re also very conscious that we’ve received a lot of support from back home, from the gay community and the rugby community in Sydney.
Sunday’s Cup decider was something of a grudge match, as the tournament’s two largest teams squared off against each other.
The Sydney Convicts sent about 40 players to New York. But the San Francisco Fog were favourites to win with the largest delegation and their undefeated record in Bingham Cup finals.
It was very tough. They were very strong. They were very determined to win, Purchas said of the Convicts’ rivals.
They tried every trick in the book, from on and off-the-field shenanigans. A fair bit of passion built up throughout the tournament.
The Bingham Plate win over international team World Barbarians was equally memorable, Purchas said.
For a lot of the guys [in the Plate competition] -¦ it was probably their first year of playing rugby, and it was great for them to do so well as well.
Billed as the World Cup of gay rugby, the Bingham Cup is held every two years in memory of San Francisco Fog player Mark Bingham, who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The first tournament was held in San Francisco in 2002. This year’s competition attracted about 700 players, representing 28 teams and 10 countries.